Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

This is a favourite in India and nothing like the Butter Chicken you get in Australia or New Zealand.  It is a rich and flavoursome dish with very little butter. It’s made up of two parts – first, the marinading and cooking of the chicken; secondly, the preparation of the sauce.

Marinade:

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4 Chicken thighs, boned (I prefer the texture of thighs to breast – holds the flavour and texture better in a curry)
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 dried chilli
1 cm knob of ginger
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Pinch of rock salt
2 tbls unsweetened yoghurt – greek is the best, as it’s much firmer than the stuff I used
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
Juice from half a lemon

Method:

Grind up some ginger, garlic, rock salt & chilli.

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Roast some cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan until they smoke – this will give the spices a far richer flavour

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Grind the whole lot together into a paste

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Some people like to slash their chicken, but I prefer to prick it all over with a fork – this helps the marinade to really get deep inside the chicken

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Squeeze some lemon juice to start the marinading process – this tenderises the chicken and makes it much easier for the marinade to permeate the meat

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Add in the paste made earlier and some coriander powder and paprika

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Add in a couple of tablespoons of fresh yoghurt and mix the whole lot together. Leave to marinade for at least 6 hours (I made this batch before going to work – means it’s ready for dinner)

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Some recipes call for the marinade to have some red food colouring. DON’T! Chuck it away!

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Time to cook our chicken. If, like me, you don’t have a tandoor oven, then BBQ is your next best option.

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While chicken is cooking, drink beer. Some people feel this is optional, it is not.

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Mmmmm, Chicken! If you stopped here, you’ve got a great starter dish – really tender and full of flavour.  But, to make Murgh Makhani, you need to make a sauce to put the chicken in.

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For the sauce:

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One small onion
4 tbls butter
6 green cardamom pods, shells discarded (important to discard the shells as they don’t whizz too well when you blend)
2 Large tomatoes (or 4 medium ones)
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp chilli powder (or sweet paprika if you want a milder flavour)
1 tsp crushed garlic
A little cream – the more you put in, the milder the flavour – I tend to put in about 1/4 cup because the cardamom flavour is quite strong. You can also put in a drizzle of honey to balance the whole dish out.
Spring onions to taste – two decent ones is good enough
1 bottle (or more) or beer.
Handful of cashews or almond slivers to garnish

Fry onions, garlic, cardamon, garam masala; chilli powder in the butter

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Add in the tomatoes and a little water

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Reduce the mixture down and leave to cool a little.

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Pour the mixture into a blender and blend to a smooth paste.  You can sieve the mixture, if you wish, but I prefer the thickness of the mix.

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Pour back in to the pan on a medium heat and add in the cream

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Add the chicken and warm through.  Top with some garnish like coriander leaves or spring onions.

Murgh Makhani

Serve and enjoy!

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